French president gives a boost to mental health and suicide prevention measures

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800 more jobs in medical psychology, a new mental health helpline and more support for mothers with postpartum depression. These are just a few of the announcements made at a national summit on psychiatric health, chaired on Tuesday by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“For the first time, there will be a single telephone number – 31 14 – that all French people can reach at any time, operational from Friday,” Minister of Health Olivier Véran told radio France on Wednesday. Inter.

“It will allow the French going through a difficult moment, with dark thoughts or sadness, to find an answer to their problems. By contacting this number, they will have direct access to professionals in psychiatric care.

A recent study, known as CoviPréc, carried out between August 31 and September 7, showed that 10% of those surveyed admitted to having had thoughts of suicide in the past year. A figure that has increased by 5 points since the start of the Covid epidemic.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people after road accidents,” said Véran.

“This is a project that has been in the works for some time – a new step in suicide prevention. It may sound like a simple phone number, but in reality there is a lot to be done.”

“It’s hours of training, identification, funding and a collective of professionals brought together to respond to the plight of the French.”

The free hotline will be open 24/7.

Speaking at the mental health and psychiatry summit, President Macron said he would create 800 jobs in mental health and psychiatry to reduce wait times for appointments.

He said that from 2022, adults could benefit from a package of up to 8 sessions with a psychologist supported by the government, up to a limit of 40 euros for the first session, and 30 euros for the following sessions. Other sessions may be available by prescription if deemed necessary.

Concerns

A total of 50 million euros are foreseen in next year’s social security budget to cover this measure.

In April, Macron had already announced a package for children aged 3 to 17, with ten free sessions with a psychologist, and a similar measure for students.

However, some industry professionals have expressed disappointment with Macron’s announcement, pointing to the low rates for each consultation, which would make it difficult for independent psychologists to earn a living.

They also stressed the danger of forcing patients to go to their treating physician for a prescription to see a psychologist under the new regime.

“Some people do not want to reveal their mental health problems to their family doctor”, explains Mathieu Collet, independent psychologist writing to the daily Figaro.

“General practitioners are not trained in psychopathologies, so that would pose a problem of medical privacy,” he says.

Postpartum care

In addition, a call for tenders amounting to 10 million euros was opened for the creation of 5 to 10 new centers and 15 to 20 mobile units, specialized in psychological support for new parents and their babies. .

“100,000 women suffer from postpartum depression each year, around 15%,” said the Minister for Children, Adrien Taquet, at the health summit on Tuesday, referring to a recent survey, in which 30% of mothers and 18% of fathers said they had experienced some form of depression. ”

“An appointment in the fifth week after the birth will be set up systematically from the beginning of 2022, to take stock of cases of postpartum depression,” said Taquet.

“For women at risk, a second appointment will be scheduled in the 12th week after birth.”

Appointments will be made by general practitioners or midwives who have received training in screening for this form of depression, and patients may be referred to specialists if necessary.

According to an OpinionWay poll for the telemedicine company Qare in August 2021, only 5% of mothers said they had been diagnosed by a specialist, and 78% of parents said they had never heard of postpartum depression during their medical appointments.


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